(With apologies to Henry Reed)
One thing that soon struck me about the area we visited is that some of the place names are confusing.
For example, Ambleside borders a large lake, but that lake is not called Lake Ambleside, or even Amble Lake. Either of these names would make more sense to me than the actual name of the lake, which is Rydal Water. There is a village called Rydal, so perhaps it was named after that village before Ambleside grew into a town. Time for a change then.
Keswick is built next to a lake too. Not Keswick Lake, or Lake Keswick, but Derwent Water. This is named after the River Derwent, which actually flows into Bassenthwaite Lake, on its way west into the Irish Sea.
Ullswater is situated next to the village of Glenridding. It could be called Lake Glenridding, or perhaps even Helvellyn Lake, from the large hill that overlooks it. But it is not. It is confusingly called Ullswater. Research tells me that the derivation is possibly from a Viking word for wolves, and that the area was once known for its large population of those carnivores. Well the Vikings are long gone, and so are native wolves.
Some lakes in the area are supposedly not lakes at all. They are called ‘Tarns’. This denotes that the lake is contained on a hillside, or mountain, and has no shoreline. That’s all very well, but Red Lake is easier to imagine than Red Tarn. Or is it just me?
Another one on the list is Buttermere, a very attractive and peaceful lake. I am told that the nearby village of Buttermere took its name from the lake, and not the other way around. So how did it get the name Buttermere? Just above Buttermere is Crummock Water. There is no place called Crummock, the name deriving from the old-English for crooked, added to the local preference for calling lakes ‘Water’, instead of ‘Lake’.
I hope you see my confusion.
I have a suggestion to offer to the National Parks Service, and the county of Cumbria. Have a think about standardising the names up there. I will supply a list of ‘new’ names, free of charge.
And while I am at it, let’s have a think about the names of the hills too.
Cat Bells. Well, they look nothing like a cat, and not a bit like a bell. Catstyecam is a hill that looks like a small mountain. It does not resemble a cat, or a cat’s eye. And cats are not kept in a Sty, they are for pigs. It is also known as a ‘Fell’, the local name for hills that also has nothing to do with falling, or having fallen. Then there is Haystacks, which looks nothing at all like a haystack. I could go on, but I will not.
I have a simple solution for renaming the hills to make sense for the confused tourist. Using the standard sizes of bra cups, they could refer to their size by ascending order in this fashion. ‘B Cup Hill’, ‘C Cup Hill’, ‘Double D Cup Hill’, ‘Bullet Bra Peak’, and so on.
Easier to remember than Catsteycam, surely?